Life as a photographer is so glamorous…
We get to shoot amazing people in fantastic places
With the newest gear
And we travel all over!
While some of this is true, it’s not the norm. Really, it’s not. Yes-many of us LOVE our clients and think they’re amazing. Yes-We do often get to travel for business. And sometimes, we even get to buy new gear! But the reality is that we work with every day people, no matter how you slice it business travel is still business travel and new gear only comes when old gear wears out. Not so glamorous, eh?
And the biggest shocker for most aspiring photographers? When I tell them that I typically spend 4 days a week, 8 hours a day working behind a computer desk. It’s true! Sure, I can head out and still keep up on emails from my mobile device but editing, accounting and many other things that have to happen every day take place at my computer, at my desk.
It always surprises aspiring photographers when I tell them that a mere 20% of my time is spent on the actual photography part of running the business while the remaining majority 80% of my time is spent running the business.
80% of my time as a photographer is spent RUNNING MY BUSINESS
It’s very common that when you start out, you’re doing the photography aspect nearly 100% of the time you spend on your hobby. You’re toting your camera around to events and functions, friends homes and traveling-all the while, taking increasingly better photographs.
Then you begin to spend more time editing your photos, bringing out the most possibility using post processing with Photoshop or other editing tools.
At that stage, you’re likely spending 80% of your time photographing and 20% of your time editing.
When you make the decision to become an Entrepreneur and open your OWN business, everything gets turned upside down!
So what does the average full time photographer’s day look like? Something like this:
- Return Emails + Phone Calls to clients or interested parties
- Download images from recent session/event
- Cull session/event images (get rid of the bad blinks etc)
- Edit/enhance images from recent session
- Upload images to online gallery
- Order dvd cases, prints, etc
- Design Albums
- Blog recent session images
- Retouch images for client orders
- Place client orders with lab
- Package received orders for delivery
- Write thank you cards
- Create invoices
- Update accounting
- Complete + Pay sales taxes
- Attend industry events
- Network with local photographers
- Order albums
- Send out requests for information on upcoming weddings
- Meetings with clients & possible clients
- Plan marketing for the upcoming quarter
- Submit images for publication consideration
- Go over the details with clients for upcoming sessions or weddings
- Facebook images
- Participate in social networking
- Create marketing pieces
- Order business materials
- Dream up shoot ideas and then figure out how to organize it
- Burn DVD’s
- Archive images to external hard drives
- Answer questions for those placing orders
- Design Save the Dates and holiday cards
- Update website portfolio
- Maintain website SEO
- Follow-up with leads
- Analyze last month’s sales
- Create presentation for clients
- Create pricing for new products
- Investigate new, innovative products
- Create + order sample products
- Maintain gear
- Charge batteries
- Print paperwork
- Clean lenses/prep gear for weekend shoots
- Send out gear for repair
On any given day, you’ll find me handling a variety of these tasks with pretty much client communication every day as well as orders or image work. Shooting isn’t even on that list-because I only shoot a few times a week, including a wedding nearly every Saturday during prime season. The other Saturdays will be filled with portrait sessions and I’ll spend Monday-Friday taking care of clients and growing my business. I often only get 1 day off and sometimes none if a client has no other day available. I’m learning to safeguard my time with my family and working towards always giving myself two days off: Sunday & Monday or Monday & Tuesday.
Still, it’s hard. Clients expect you to be available during normal business hours Monday-Friday and often think you only work one day a week: the day you’re photographing them.
Friends and Family expect to hang out on the weekends but all summer long, I’m working every weekend. So backyard bar-b-que’s, trips to the beach, lazy days reading by the water…those are all just dreams for most of the warmer months because that’s the busy season.
I’m still learning to balance things so that I get a chance to enjoy the warmer months too but even when I take days off, they’re rarely on the weekend so it’s rarely with family or friends who have regular 9-5 jobs during the week.